Some may recall a time when the lower level of the SUB was occupied by a bowling alley. Fifty years ago, this bowling alley was removed and a theater installed, transforming the area into ASUNM’s Southwest Film Center.
Holding true to its initial purpose, Executive Director Tori Martinez said the SWFC brings independent, foreign and documentary films to UNM, as these films are not widely shown throughout Albuquerque. This gives UNM students a unique experience at an affordable price of $3 she said.
The mission of the SWFC is not only to bring films to the students and the community; it also brings movies that are relevant to what is happening in the world today.
The center is making efforts to incorporate marginalized communities, Martinez said. For instance, a few years ago the center hosted an LGBTQ film festival. In light of an incredible turnout, SWFC is looking forward to bringing it back within the next few years.
The event the SWFC looks forward to hosting each year is the Cherry Reel Festival, which will take place on Nov. 18 this year. Martinez described the event as the center’s “baby” and “pride and joy.” In its inception some five years ago, the festival touted only 10 submissions, she said. Now, it features as many as 50 short film submissions from a variety of students.
“It’s moving to see what kind of work students bring in,” Assistant Director Sara Velasquez said.
With hopes of securing another sponsorship from Cannon, she said they are hoping to expand Cherry Reel from a single-day event into a weekend-long festival.
Starting in the summer, directors must narrow their film choices from around 50 down to 13, Velasquez said. To make these selections, the directors enlist the aid of sites such as IMDb, YouTube, the Oscar Market and the Sundance Film Festival, she said.
“It’s really a hit or miss, but we have to be confident in our choices, ” Martinez said, adding that film selection is a matter of asking: “What can we create that these students would want to see?”
Last semester was a hit with showings of “La La Land,” “Moonlight” and “Manchester by the Sea,” Martinez said.
Prior to the start of the semester, Velasquez said directors must “lock down” contracts with distributors and establish contact with various student organizations hoping to collaborate with the center. Once the year starts, they must make sure they keep a hefty stock of popcorn, candy and soda, she said.
SWFC has made a point to connect with the emerging Lobo leaders to inspire younger students to take interest and an active role in the center, so that when the present directors move on, the center’s legacy will continue to grow, Martinez said.
This year, the film center is going to be pairing up with Lobo Spirit during Homecoming Week and will be showing Disney’s “Hercules” from Sept. 29 through Oct. 1 in celebration of the film’s 20th anniversary. Classics such as “Beetlejuice” and “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” will be also be coming soon.
Florence Sliger is a culture reporter with the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at culture @Paulinesliger.